Gods Lesson

Morning came and like usual on mission trips, things didn’t go as planned. We didn’t have anything to do around the community so we were assigned work on the compound. We were told to grab shovels and head out to the garbage pile on the project. When we visually took in our next mission I was like “no biggy”. Then we started.

I normally don’t have a problem getting my hands dirty but it was pretty disgusting. I felt nauseous just picking at some of the rotten garbage. Unusual scary looking bugs were crawling everywhere. All the brush and cardboard boxes were decomposing from sitting out in the rain. We joked that every mysterious black bag was a dead cat as we flung it through the air to the back of the truck. The whole time all I could think about was getting it over with so I could go take a cold shower and get out of the nasty, sweaty, smelly, hot environment I was in.

Once our team had finished getting our gloved hands dirty we learned no cold shower yet because now we had to take the trash to the dump. We got 15 blissful minutes in the shade and then loaded up in the back of the garbage truck.
Ideal chaperone service by the way: riding in the back of a garbage truck.

When we arrived our first impression was smell then the visual wasn’t so pleasant either. As you can imagine a dump looks like, it’s a sea of garbage. Mounds of trash piled up to level with our truck. Swarms of flies following every scrawny mutt searching through the filth. The shaggy homes built throughout the trash piles. Wait what? Houses? In a dump? I knew that there was poverty all throughout Chichigalpa, I had seen it first hand, but people live in dumps?

A little background on the landscape. The homes(or at least a form of a house) were made of sticks and tattered tarp held together with twine. There was no clean water only dirty puddles eroding skinny dirt roads. Of course there was trash covering every square inch of ground in the vacinity. Skinny blistered dogs were running around trying to find shade from the 97 degree heat and the 46 percent humidity. The smell was just bad. No other way to describe it. And oh lord the flies…

I don’t know why I was so surprised to come to find out that people lived here, but for some reason I was shocked.

First step is denial. People don’t actually live here… I admit my first thought was “oh these are just places they get shade during the day and then they go home when the work day is over.” Nope. This was their home. This is where they ate, slept, raised their children, grew old. This was their home. I was surprised and I was even more surprised to see smiles. Everyone I caught eyes with gave me a grin. Little naked baby girls covered in dirt ran around giggling. Wrinkly dark skinned old people gave us friendly waves. Shirtless tattooed men shook our hands.

I was also surprised to see their worth ethic. It was hot outside(like usual) and this was a gross job, but people were still picking through stuff that must have been picked over dozens of times already. There were young men that eagerly surrounded our truck, and jumped right in the garbage searching for gems in the rubbish. And they did so without any form of disgust. There was a girl who couldn’t have been older than 12 who was scavenging and couldn’t care less that she was covered head to toe in grime, or that rotten milk had just spilled down her leg. For her it was just another day and that’s what you did at 11 o’clock.

These people could only afford food based on how many plastic bottles they had collected that day. They had nothing. Yet they welcomed us, accepted our prayers and didn’t complain about their circumstances in the slightest. They were digging throughout the trash willingly because that’s how they survive. These people walk around all day searching through rotten garbage, dealing with the fly infestation and living through the dirt and smell yet I couldn’t even bear to shovel trash for an hour without hating my circumstances. Rather than being disgusted with the piles of garbage I was disgusted with myself.

I realized how much I take for granted. I have so much and I recognize how lucky I am to be able to live the lifestyle I live. One where I don’t have to shovel trash for a living and I can sleep in a bed without the smell of spoiled food taking over my dreams. I never worry about where my next meal comes from or if my water will give me cholera. I’m a blessed girl and I knew that even before seeing the dump, but seeing people in those circumstances changes even what you thought you knew. I thought I was blessed but seeing and knowing how lucky you truly are makes you kind of sick to your stomach.

We ended up going back to the dump the next day and taking a sick old man we had prayed for to the hospital. He was the only heart there that we really touched while we were there. Although we hadn’t really made an impact on too many people at the dump the dump had made an impact on us. I am forever a little more grateful for what I have because of that experience.

God was teaching us a lesson. Be thankful for what you pocess, and be happy with what you have. It shouldn’t take going to a dump in a third world country to show you that.

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